Several of my friends have suggested I should write about cooking. And with that I mind, I am going to write about soup.
I love soups and stews. I like eating them, making them – I love chopping. I have a nice big heavy knife that I keep reasonably sharp and I could chop all day. When I was working and I had a bad day, I would think of something to make for dinner that required a lot of chopping and swing into Stop & Shop on the way home to buy it. I’d walk in the door, change my clothes, don an apron, pour a nice big glass of wine and start chopping. I found it relaxing and therapeutic. I love chopping. So I’ve said – twice.
Anyhow, soup is something that usually requires lots of chopping so here is my story. Recently I have been wanting soups with beans. I was at a friend’s house looking at a pile of cooking magazines she had saved. And I came across a recipe for Ribollita. The recipe is here.
And the first time I made it, I followed the recipe pretty closely. But I have made soups in the slow-cooker several times since then following the same basic idea and they have come out nice and tasty.
Wikipedia tells us about Ribollita – link here also. Seems to me that it is everything that is left in your fridge but we don’t always do that in this country so the recipe above is another way to do it.
But now I get to my point. For less than bold cooks who worry about cooking without a recipe, you can do this. And make your soup any way you want it to be. The last time I made a bean soup, here is how I did it. I have a very big oval slow-cooker. I used one cup of dry white northern beans. But you could use any dried bean you want. I use about 7 or 8 cups of water per cup of dry beans. You don’t have to pre-soak or cook the beans. Just use enough water. Then I went to the refrigerator and my vegetable basket. I added to the slow-cooker most of a bunch of celery that I chopped. Maybe 6 or 8 chopped carrots. Coarse chop, not fine mincing – you are making a hearty stew. I had half a box of mushrooms. I cut those up. I had some fresh parsley so I chopped and threw that in. My mother had given me a baggie full of fresh brussel sprouts. I washed them and cut off the bottoms and outer leaves, and then cut them in half the long way and put them in. An onion. A whole head of garlic. A big hunk of cheddar cheese cubed. And about a half pound of bacon that I diced up – raw, not cooked. That was about it. Put the cover on the slow-cooker and turn it on. About 5 hours on high. If you’re going to be at work all day, turn it on low.
But please be sure to turn it on. One time in the relatively recent past, I set up my slow-cooker and plugged it in and went to work without turning it on. Luckily someone was home that day and noticed that the lovely aroma usually created by a roast and vegetables in the crockpot was non-existent. Not kidding. He turned it on. Thank goodness as company was coming for dinner. But I digress.
So essentially what I ended up with was a slow-cooker about 2/3 of the way full and the amount of water just covered everything in it.
So you can make this same soup using any vegetables – broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, green beans, spinach – whatever you like. I like tomatoes in my soup but not always all the juice. One time when I made it, I drained a can of tomatoes and threw in the solid pieces right at the end. That worked out well. Any meat – bacon, pancetta, chunked up chicken, hamburger, sausage, diced pieces of boneless beef or pork. Any dried beans you like. Or any combination of beans – just use enough water. You could substitute wine or chicken broth for some of the water. Be careful if you use chicken broth. One time I did and my soup was a little too salty. And it is hard to get salt out. You can add more at the table if you like but once it’s in, you’re pretty much stuck with it.
Here is a picture of my last soup using this method. I am available to advise insecure cooks. And would love to. Make it your own! Good Luck and let me know if you try it.